In October of 1899, long-standing hostilities between the Boers (Dutch settlers) and Britain's South African colonies culminated in war. Tension between the British and the independent Boer states of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State had existed since 1895. That year, a force of South African mounted police under the command of Dr. Jameson had invaded the Transvaal in hopes of overthrowing the government. Although Boer forces defeated the invaders, the event had significant consequences.
Following the "Jameson Raid," Paul Kruger, the President of the Transvaal, purchased rifles, ammunition, and artillery from the Netherlands and Imperial Germany. In the fall of 1899, Kruger became convinced that a British invasion was imminent and launched a Boer offensive into the British colonies as a pre-emptive measure. The British government immediately requested troops from the dominions, asking Canada to send a contingent of infantry.